black cherry
Prunus serotina var. serotina

Secondary Names:

Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A large tree to 80 feet tall and a trunk 1 to 3 feet in diameter. Forest-grown trees have long clear trunks with little taper and an oval crown; open-grown trees have short trunks with many branches and an irregular, spreading crown.

Range/Site Description:

Occurs in East Texas on a variety of sites, but commonly found in fertile woods or along fencerows, burned areas, or disturbed sites where it is a pioneer species.


Simple, alternate, 2" to 6" long and 1" to 1.5" wide, oval or elliptical in shape, with very fine teeth along the margin; glossy and dark green above, pale green beneath, with tufts of brown hairs along the midrib.


Drooping, cylindrical clusters of small, white flowers appear with the new leaves in spring.


A purplish-black, berry-like drupe, up to 0.5" in diameter, borne in long, hanging clusters. The fruit ripens in late summer and is edible, though slightly bitter.


On branches and young trunks the bark is smooth, bright reddish-brown, and marked by conspicuous, narrow, horizontal lines called "lenticels;" older trunks develop small, flat, scaly plates; twigs have a bitter almond taste.


Red-brown heartwood with yellowish sapwood, moderately heavy, hard, strong, fine-grained, and does not warp or split in seasoning; used for fine furniture, cabinets, veneer, interior trim, and printers blocks.

Similar Species:

Escarpment black cherry (Prunus serotina var. eximia) occurs in the Hill Country and the Edwards Plateau and tolerates alkaline soils; southwestern black cherry (P. serotina var. rufula) and southwestern chokecherry (P. serotina var. virens) occur in West Texas.

Interesting Facts:

With the exception of walnut, black cherry lumber has a greater value per board-foot than any other hardwood in the eastern United States.

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